30 Jun 2022

Alex Hems: End of term letter to parents

Dear Parents and Guardians 

Alex web3This has felt like one of the busiest end of terms on record, as we have packed into the calendar so many events that are usually spread across the year. Sports Days for every section of the School, a beautiful summer concert on Sunday afternoon, the Leavers’ Recital, Balls for Upper 6 and Upper 5, Sports Celebration Evening on Tuesday and Speech Day yesterday.  Each one of these events has seen your daughters at their best; organizing, sharing, celebrating achievements, taking part and cheering one another on. I know that this afternoon our newly elected House Captains will be taking the reins in their first event, organizing activities for our final day of the year.  


At Speech Day yesterday we heard from Mrs Rowena Naile, MBE about her time at St George’s and her subsequent career in the Army. As a woman who has made her life working in a male-dominated environment she had wise words for our Leavers, about being true to themselves, about the importance of hard work and about making the most of opportunities when they come. These are values that we seek to instill across the school. I know that the students in Lower School recently enjoyed an Assembly delivered by our Senior Prefect, specifically about how to make the most of everything St George’s can offer. Reading through the Speech Day programme yesterday, it is certainly clear that our Leavers have done just that, despite the interruptions, disappointments and frustrations of the covid period.   


A school career is not only about achievements and accolades, however, important as these are. Today in our Celebration Assemblies we will award the Scott Cup in Lower and Upper School, for students who have gone above and beyond in giving back to our community in one way or another. At Speech Day we award the Old Girls Association Award for outstanding service to the school and its communityand the Good Friend Awardfor supporting students within the year group with good grace, humour and a friendly smile, for which the students themselves vote. These recognize the personal growth and values that we hold dear here, the contributions through kindness, commitment and care, that our young people make, which enrich our school every day. 


At the end of term we also say goodbye to some members of staff. This week we have celebrated the immense contribution to school life made by colleagues who are retiring: Mrs Jackie Irvine after 11years at St George’s teaching English and Support for Learning; Mr Peter Thomson, Director of Music, who retires after 22 years here, Mrs Adams who has been with us in the Junior School since 1994 and Mrs White who has served this school for 32 years in many roles, but most recently as a distinguished Deputy Head of the Junior School. Today we also say goodbye to Turid Engstrom, Kathleen Stevens, Dr Warren, Mrs Sinclair, Mr Crawford, Ms Basso de Marc and MsSnaddon. We thank them all for everything they have done for St George’s during their time here.  


It has been an extraordinary privilege to be the Head of St George’s over the past five and a half years. Thank you all for your support, and the lovely messages and gifts that I have received in the last few days. Living in Edinburgh and being part of St George’s hav been such  special and truly life changing experiences for me and my family. I return to the south east, to Hertfordshire where I grew up, enriched in countless ways by the time that I have spent with you, your daughters and my colleagues here. I know that I leave the school in extremely good hands; I am sure that you will welcome my successor Carol Chandler-Thompson as warmly as you did me in 2017.  


I wish you all a very enjoyable summer.  


Mrs Alex Hems MA Oxon
Head, St George's School, Edinburgh 

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